New or Used: Run What You Brung…Son!

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used run what you brungson

Donovan writes:

Hi guys,

I follow TTAC kind compulsively on a daily basis. I have a very nice 2005 Honda Accord. Its the 2.4l 4 pot, i-Vtec and a stick shift to boot. The car has a LEV sticker and I believe it was one of the first motors to pass some stringent emissions standard (California I think). I bought it 2 years ago and it was a sweet, certified deal. It is also, now paid for. I keep a log book for gas mileage and the car averages 28 / 29 MPG and I can be a bit of a lead foot now and then.

What exactly is my problem, you might ask?

Firstly I am frustrated with the sedan body, having owned many hatchbacks. Second the car is now approaching 7 years old and is about to clock 100K miles. The mileage does not bother me much as I think this motor can easily do double that but when selling the car not everyone will see it that way.

It is a good car to keep and its a good time to let the car go. If I was to replace the Accord these are the important factors. I don’t want any big debt right now but some debt is O.K. My priorities are for a practical hatch back, good handling, good gas mileage and reliability. I really like the Nissan Juke but I am not sure I can get a 2nd hand one easily.

Thanks for your advice.

Steve answers:

No you can’t get a second hand one these days. Even the ones you could get will go for higher than retail due to their use as finance fodder for consumers who can’t get conventional financing.

My advice is to go out and rent something that interests you. Then just weigh in on the decision a bit more. A fellow who goes by the name Rivethead who had the misfortune of assembling cars during the 1980’s once said about the different jobs at an assembly plant, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Until you have to start mowing all that shit down.” The same is true when considering the benefits and drawback of a hatchback versus a sedan.

For more utility, you get more noise. For every dozen or so nice conventional plain-jane sedans. You can purchase a unique fashionable model that offers ‘take it or leave it’ looks along with a heaping load of debt.

Since you drive a four cylinder / five speed Accord, there should be no harrowing costs on the horizon. In fact your second hundred thousand miles should cost less than the first hundred thousand so long as you keep up on the maintenance.

My advice is to keep what you have and sample whenever the mood strikes you.

Sajeev answers:

If I remember correctly, my folks had a brand new 2001 Mercury Mountaineer with a “ULEV” sticker on the window, a big honkin 5.0L V8 and knobby/explode-y Firestone tires. Cutting edge stuff right there, for sure. So I am pretty sure someone in the 1990s made this whole LEV thing work. But that’s neither here no there…

I see a few weekends on test driving in your future. Try to make it fun, insist that you are in the “exploratory phase” of your purchase to all salesmen, go out for a nice lunch too. Make it an event worth experiencing! Maybe a Mazda 3 will suit your fancy. Or a Honda fit.

Would I buy another car if I was in your shoes? Hell no! That’s one of the nicest Honda products in recent memory, and it will last for decades if you do whatever the owners manual says. And it will get better with age, when you replace key suspension bits with mildly spicy aftermarket ones. This is a no brainer: run with what you brung…son!

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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5 of 70 comments
  • ExPatBrit ExPatBrit on Nov 05, 2011

    Never understood the "I need to sell it while it's worth something" comment. Unless gas prices drop by a huge amount, any somewhat frugal smallish vehicle is always going to be worth something. This includes vehicles like this Honda,small pickups and sports cars. At some point these vehicles almost stop depreciating even if they just run OK. If it's legal and is current on emissions you would have to fight off buyers IMHO. And yes if you trade it in, it's going to auction. Sell it yourself and make twice as much.

    • See 2 previous
    • ExPatBrit ExPatBrit on Nov 05, 2011

      @Scoutdude You must have a different definition of the word "steep". Having a new car that loses $3000-5000 in it's first year is steep. It's a 5 speed Honda Accord, not a BMW 7 series. That car will easily sell with 100,000+ or 150,000 miles any day of the week. And that potential $1000 repair (3 car payments) is true for any vehicle out of warranty. Nothing wrong with wanting / needing a new car, very rarely is it cheaper.

  • Gasser Gasser on Nov 05, 2011

    If you have an itch, SCRATCH!!!!!!! Once you're out of love, you're done. Sell it for top dollar (used car market for Hondas is HOT right now) How happy or sad you will be about the swap in a few years is totally dependent on a smart choice in the NEXT car.

  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉